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Make Dinner Prep So Simple With A Slow Cooker

  • If you’ve never enjoyed the convenient deliciousness that slow cookers bring into a household with ease and time efficiency then we’re very sorry to tell you that you’ve been missing out on something extremely helpful indeed. Whether you’re interested in a slow cooker because you’e got a busy work scheduled and you don’t want to sacrifice meal quality, or whether you’re just a beginner in the kitchen looking to make cooking a little more manageable, investing in a slow cooker can be a total mealtime game changer.

Even though slow cookers are quite common where we live, we still find that many people we encounter don’t realize just how versatile, useful, and accessible they can be, or for just how many different things. It’s also common, in our experience, that people don’t always realize how easily high quality slow cookers can be bought online for great prices. That’s why we’ve been gathering the links for the best slow cookers we came across in our search for a new one of our own. Shopping online is truly a fantastic way to invest more time in really researching your options, as it gives you the time to compare and contrast features. You can even bookmark things for later, think about them for a few days, and then come back to consider them again. Slow cookers are no exception to this easy process.

What is a slow cooker?

Simply put, a slow cooker (sometimes referred to as a crock pot) is a countertop electrical appliance that’s designed to simmer for long periods of time at a low temperature. This capability lets you put something into the slow cooker in the morning, leave it safely to simmer all day and cook slowly in a way that preserves flavour and juices and happens gradually over several hours. By the time you get home from work or wake up in the morning, you have a new dish.

Slow cookers are most often adjustable, but all of the temperatures made available are lower than other countertop or your standard appliances offer. This is part of why they can be left on and cooking for a longer period of time and largely unsupervised; their temperatures do not reach the same dangerous heights. The simmering process that they put your food through in the pot is low maintenance but good for moisture and locking in flavour.

Who should buy a slow cooker?

If you ask us, literally anyone can benefit from owning and using a slow cooker! If you’re a beginner to the kitchen but you want to make sure you’re still preparing quality meals, the ease of use that slow cookers bring will definitely widen the range of what you can handle making. If you’re a more experienced cook but you often run out of space on your more conventional appliances, a slow cooker can help you make a whole additional dish on the side. Slow cookers are also great for very busy people who want to keep up a good, nutritional diet and avoid ordering out too much, but who can’t be home to actually cook all the time.

If you’re still feeling like you could use a bit more guidance in the process of analyzing the best slow cooker options, check out our pros and cons style list to learn more about the slow cookers we were most impressed with during our own search.

1. Aroma Housewares rice and slow cooker

Aroma housewares rice and slow cooker

If you’re looking for a slow cooker that’s diverse enough for all different dishes but simple enough for very quick prep in the morning before work, then you might settle on this model from Aroma Housewares right off the bat. This slow cooker comes with seven automated controls that make setting up all kind of meals to cook even easier than usual. This particular pot also doubles well as a rice cooker, with pre-sets for white rice, brown rice, and oatmeal. The machine has a delay timer that will let you set a meal up to start cooking even hours in the future, letting you time when the dish will be done. It also has a warming setting that will keep the food heated without cooking it any further, until you’re ready to eat.

Although most people were very happy with the setting functions of this machine, some made critical notes about oatmeal specifically. They maintain that the instructions should let customers know that the delay timer only works on the rice cooking presets. This is fine for different dishes that work on these settings even though they’re not rice based but some things, like oatmeal, boil over or stick on those slightly hotter settings and therefore can’t be made in combination with the delay timer.

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Pros:

  • Durable and easy to clean, inside and out
  • Seven preset cook settings that make preparing cook times even easier than usual
  • Delay timer and warming settings for convenience before and after actual cook time

Cons:

  • Delay timer only works on rice based presets
  • Some foods that need lower temperatures boil over or stick on the rice settings and therefore can’t be used with delay timer

2. Crock Pot Cook-n-Carry portable slow cooker

Crock pot cook n carry portable slow cooker

If you’re looking for a slow cooker that’s a little larger and a little more basic and classic in its functionality, then you might appreciate this design offered by Crock Pot the most. This seven quart slow cooker is set manually according to which low simmering temperature is the best for your particular dish, which the included guide will help you determine. The machine is made from polished stainless steel and durable plastic that makes it easy to clean, durable, and touch safe when you move it. Sturdy handles, a locking lid, and a disconnecting cord make it portable for pot lucks and family dinners. Choose the highest cooking heat for a meal in less time, more like a stovetop pot, or a low one for safe all-day simmering.

Reviewers of this item give you one strong cautionary piece of advice: heed the manual’s instructions to leave the lid of this pot unlocked while cooking! If you lock the lid, steam can’t escape well enough around the edges due to the design of this model. Heat will then cause pressure to build up and the lid might shatter when you try to unlock it or lift it by the hot handle, raining glass down into your food. You must leave the lid unlocked while you are cooking. The locks are only for taking it on the go.

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Pros:

  • Impressive seven quart capacity
  • Convenient dial to set high temperatures for faster cooking or low temperatures for slow cooking and all day simmering
  • Handles, lid locks, and detachable cord for portability before or after your dish has cooked
  • Polished steel and durable plastic materiality for easy cleaning and touch-safe use

Cons:

  • Manual warns you about locking the lid during cooking, but its caution should be even stronger; if you lock the lid while cooking, heat pressure builds and the lid will shatter glass into your food

3. Instant Pot Duo 7-in-1 electric pressure cooker

Instant pot duo 7 in 1 electric pressure cooker

Rather than size, is easy diversity really your priority when it come to the slow cooker you’ll choose? Then you might get along better from this 7-in-1 hot pot design from Instant Pot. This multi-appliance works as a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, steamer, sauté pan, yogurt maker, and food warmer. It also features easy to navigate one-touch preset buttons for each of those capabilities and cooks up to 70% faster than some more basic slow cookers, even on simmer. It’s made from fingerprint resistant steel and anti-heating plastic, making it easy to clean, and all of its included accessories (including the spatula, measuring cup, and inner pot) are dishwasher safe. The pot comes with a range of recipes and 14 preset dish cooking options.

Be aware that although the packaging and descriptions list “steaming” as one of the machine’s capabilities, it doesn’t actually come with a steamer basket, which is a necessary piece to taking full advantage of that feature. Many brands sell steamer baskets separately, but several previous buyers of this machine reported having extensive trouble in finding a separate steamer basket that fits the top of this machine.

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Pros:

  • Fingerprint resistant, touch safe, and easy to clean materiality with dishwasher safe accessories
  • Cooks 70% faster than some other basic slow cooker designs
  • 7-in-1 basic capabilities help it function like a multi-tool
  • 14 pre-programmed meal settings make it diverse, quick, and easy to use

Cons:

  • Advertised steaming capabilities are difficult to take advantage of because it’s not sold with a steaming basket included and a separately sold basket that actually fits is difficult to find

4. All-Clad programmable oval-shaped slow cooker

All clad programmable oval shaped slow cooker

Are you still holding out for a larger design that will let you prepare bigger servings but you’d like more control than just a temperature dial? Then check out this more programmable model form All-Clad. This 6.5 quart slow cooker comes with an easy to clean stainless steel exterior and a dishwasher safe ceramic inner pot. This pot is removable and convenient for direct or table serving. The machine gives you a delay timer that you can set up to 26 hours in advance, and ranges in its programmable cooking times between 4-20 hours, depending on the dish and temperature recommendations. A large, well lit digital screen makes your custom settings easier to find and your prep and safety indicators visible and simple to read.

Make sure that you follow the manual’s warning to avoid using this pot’s ceramic insert to prepare food on your conventional stovetop or in the oven. This pot is not prepared for intense cooking times at such high heat levels and it will crack the ceramic.

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Pros:

  • Visible, intuitive LCD screen with large digital display
  • Removable ceramic inner pot for easy dishwasher cleaning or table serving
  • Very wide cooking time range and delay timer of up to 26 hours, giving you more control over when your dish will be ready

Cons:

  • Inner pot must not be used to cook on the stovetop or in the oven; high heat will crack the ceramic

5. Hamilton Beach portable digital slower cooker

Hamilton beach portable digital slower cooker

Are you primarily interested in purchasing a slow cooker so you can make meat based dishes that are cooked to perfection, even though you work a lot? Then we think you’ll be impressed by some of the features offered with this Hamilton Beach model. The controls on this machine are simple, but they’re programmable enough that you can select an ideal cooking time and confirm the suggest temperature according to an included thorough guide. The lid locks for portability before and after cooking, features a steam hole to stop pressure building, and also lets you test the inner temperature of your meat using the included sensitive thermometer through that same hole, thereby protecting you from steam burns. The 6 quart pot is removable and dishwasher safe.

It’s worth noting that in very select units sold by this company, this model has been known to have a melting defect. It’s the exception and not the rule, but some units with flaws where the plastic bottom and steel casing meet have experienced issues with melting plastic when the cooker is used often and at its highest temperature settings.

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Pros:

  • 6 quart removable inner pot is generous in size and dishwasher safe
  • Easy controls let you customize the perfect temperature versus cooking time combination for your particular dish
  • Locking lid provides protection, steam hole for pressure escape, and simple inner heat testing with provided thermometer

Cons:

  • Select units with flaws at bottom’s join area experienced issues with melting when used often at its highest heat settings

6. Hamilton beach extra large Stay or Go slow cooker

Hamilton beach extra large stay or go slow cooker

Are you intrigued by the idea of a slow cooker that you can take somewhere before or after cooking but you can’t help wondering if there isn’t a bigger model with this capability? Then Hamilton Beach has just what you’re looking for. With a 10 quart inner pot, this is the largest slow cooker on the list. It has three basic but universal temperature settings, each of which will switch to warming after the allotted cooking time. A lined, locking lid helps prevent splatter en route before or after cooking, while sturdy handles give you a good, safe grip for lifting and careful carrying. Both the inner pot and the lid are dishwasher safe.

The primary complaint put forth by previous buyers is that this particular model doesn’t feature any kind of indicator light. This means that, to tell whether the machine is on and heated, you only have the position of the temperature dial to look out for. This makes the possibility of someone lifting the machine when they shouldn’t or touching the head glass lid without care a lot more likely than it would be if the unit, like most models, had an eye-catching light to indicate that the machine was on and heated.

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Pros:

  • 10 quart inner pot capacity for larger serving sizes
  • Portability before or after cooking thanks to locking lid and sturdy handles
  • Three basic but universal temperature settings
  • Swaps to warming after allotted cooking time for safety and to prevent over-cooking
  • Inner pot and lid are both dishwasher safe

Cons:

  • Unit does not feature an indicator light to make it very obvious when machine is on and heated

7. Hamilton Beach Sear & Cook programmable slow cooker

Hamilton beach sear & cook programmable slow cooker

Are you still having trouble finding a machine that has quite as many cooking times as the things you want to make most would require? Then perhaps this unit from Hamilton Beach is just what you’ve been waiting for. This slightly more customizable (but still simple) machine can be programmed to cook at any temperature for anywhere from two to ten hours. The manual even gives you a guide of which heat and time combination is best for which dishes. The lid and six quart inner pot are both dishwasher safe and the touch-safe plastic and steel exterior are easy to wipe down. The pot is solid but not too heavy to be safely portable.

Although the base unit and the cooking functions were very well liked by most previous users, some people’s particular units featured a flaw in the plastic handle on the top of the lid. When used for a long time at its highest temperature settings, some people had issues with the edges around the plastic lid handle’s base melting. It’s not a common issue, but it is a purchasing risk.

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Pros:

  • Dishwasher safe inner pot and lid, with easy to clean exterior
  • Touch safe plastic and sturdy handles for good portablity
  • Wide range of cooking times at all different available temperatures (with a thorough guide for settings)
  • Impressively lightweight for how solid and durable the base is

Cons:

  • Some issues feature a plastic flaw around the base of the lid handle that causes it to melt when used at high heat settings

8. Cosori slow cooker 11-in-1 multi-cooker

Cosori slow cooker 11 in 1 multi cooker

If you loved the idea of a lengthy delay timer but you want more customizability in the same place than what you saw before, here’s a great alternative from Cosori. This machine gives you a delay timer that can be set up to 24 hours in advance and has 11 varied cooking style settings that function along three different heat settings. The digital display is simple and easy to read, while the dial and button controls are straight forward and intuitive. The unit is simple to carry, the inner aluminum pot is food safe, fast heating, and dishwasher safe, and the exterior is clearly marked as being hot, for the sake of safety.

Some people who have previous experience of this cooker have reported that they find the actual heat settings lower than the number display. This can cause issues when it comes to cooking meats all the way through in the allotted time. A few previous buyers mentioned having to turn the machine to its boil setting at the end to really get their meat properly heated through the centre on larger cuts.

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Pros:

  • Inner pot is quick heating and dishwasher safe
  • Delay timer can be set up to 24 hours in advance
  • Digital display is easy to read and control dials are buttons are intuitive and simple to use
  • Unit is sturdy and easy to carry out before and after cooking

Cons:

  • Some users reported discrepancies between displayed temperature and actual heat output, affecting how thoroughly cooked larger cuts of meat can get through the middle

What can slow cookers be used for?

Most people use their slow cookers to make meat. Because of the low maintained temperature, many cooks prefer to brown their meat in a crying pan first and then place it in their slow cooker, just to make sure it cooks thoroughly to the centre. The slow cooker will take over from there, locking in flavour and keeping things tender. This quality is why so many people like to use their slow cooker on cheaper cuts of meat; the simmering action enriches the flavour and texture to resemble more expensive cuts.

Besides regular cuts of meat, people often use their slow cookers to make:

  • Mac and cheese
  • Stroganoff
  • Soups and stews
  • Chili or baked beans
  • Meatballs and curries
  • Ribs
  • Stewed veggies or boiled veggies set in alongside a cut of meat to absorb the flavour
  • Enchiladas
  • Casseroles
  • Oatmeal, overnight oats, and hot cereals

Do you know a busy foodie who has been thinking about investing in a good slower cooker of their own but who could use some help picking the right model? Share this post with them so they have all kinds of options to consider.